Mini Moke – The Caribbean’s Ultimate Rental Car

My preferred rental car choices while traveling in the Caribbean are anything but flashy. Ideally, they’re rugged, go-anywhere vehicles. Think Jeep Wranglers. Even when they’re not, though, my ideal rental is always a little beat-up. I’m talking vehicles bearing scratches, stains, and dents born of adventure and questionable choices. In short, I like island cars. Cars that blend in with the local scene. For the Mini Moke, though, I’d make an exception.

You don’t see them darting around many of our islands these days. During 1960s and 70s, though, Mini Mokes were a top rental car option across much of the West Indies. 

Mini Moke’s Military Origins

That the Mini Moke ever became a touchstone of Caribbean tourism is somewhat of a miracle. The curious little cars were initially developed in the UK during the early 1960s. Their initial intended purpose: combat!

Hard to believe, but yes, the first Mini Mokes were expressly designed and built to be used by the British military.

Well, at least that’s what the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and the vehicle’s inventors, Sir Alec Issigonis and John Sheppard, hoped. One even cursory look at an original Moke, however, makes plain the folly of this idea. The vehicle is anything but all-terrain, much less battlefield-ready, what with its ultra-low ground clearance and piddly engine.

Those limitations, though, didn’t soften early sales pitch efforts for the Moke…

After getting rebuffed by the British armed forces, BMC pivoted and began marketing the Mini Moke for civilian usage. They still pushed the Moke’s supposed all-terrain capabilities. This, BMC argued, made it an ideal vehicle for farming and other rural industries.

Mini Moke ad (1973)
Australia Mini Moke ad (1973) | Photo credit: * Five Star Photos * via Flickr

Made for Beach Life

At the same time, though, the Moke’s obvious “beach buggy” style started earning it fans most everywhere that sun, sand, and sea are the thing. California, Australia, St. Tropez, Seychelles, Mauritius, and all throughout the British West Indies.

Car rental companies in Barbados, St. Kitts, Montserrat, BVI and elsewhere across the region offered Mini Moke rentals. Low ground clearance continued to prove problematic along notoriously dodgy island roads. At the same time, though, the Moke’s rugged frame was up to the challenge of island life.

Most of the original Mini Mokes available for rent in the Caribbean during the 1970s and 80s are long gone now, of course. If you’re lucky, though, you can still spot one in the wild. I found this red one in Bequia in 2013.

Classic Mini Moke in Bequia
Classic Mini Moke in Bequia | Photo by Steve Bennett

With its soft top, zero frills, and open air design, this beauty fits the scene along the sands that line a portion of Admiralty Bay perfectly. Simple and laid back; functional, but unhurried – a ride right in tune with island vibes.

Mini Moke Caribbean Rentals Today

While you’d be hard-pressed to find a classic Moke to rent in the Caribbean today, there are some nice, new alternatives…

Mini Mokes in Anguilla
Mini Mokes in Anguilla | Photo by Steve Bennett

I happened upon these sweet rides for rent at Moke Anguilla (est. 2019). Though obviously and beautifully espousing the classic Moke style, these models are all-new! They feature waterproof seats, a bluetooth speaker, and a 16-valve four-cylinder engine that leaves the original Moke in the dust. 

Moke Anguilla’s rides are all gas-powered and available in manual and automatic transmissions. They also offer a choice of nine different colors, each flamboyantly echoing the West Indies. The green model at the head of this post is called Genip. Flamingo (pink), Sky (light blue), Mango (yellow), Fruit Punch (red), Pistachio (olive), Magnolia (tan), Sorrel (maroon), and White Sand round out the color options.

No matter which flavor of Moke Anguilla model you choose, you’re sure to zip around Anguilla in style, while also creating unique photo-ops rooted in the adventurous spirit of the Caribbean.

For more on Moke Anguilla, visit them online here.

Oh, and if you know of anywhere else in the Caribbean where uncommon travelers can rent a Mini Moke, let us know!

Last updated by Steve Bennett on .

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